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Is a partnership certification worth the money? Part III -- security

A vendor's stamp of approval could expand your exposure and sales; or it could cost training money and give you nothing more than a stamp for your Web site.

Click here for Part I: Is a partnership certification worth the money?

In today's corporate world, where protecting data, corporate assets and the reputation of the company and its managers depends on good security, being certified in related technologies is crucial, according to executives at some security vendors. Developers are extending a helping hand to solution providers looking to ramp up their security abilities without watering down the certification process.

At a recent CIO Engage conference, hosted by Symantec, one government executive discussed his county's need for certain security solutions. While pleased with the county's ongoing relationship with a local Symantec partner for its data-availability needs, the VAR had not recommended Symantec's solution because it lacked Symantec's security certification, according to Randy Cochran, vice president, Symantec Channel Sales, Americas.

More on certification:
Well? Is it?
Part II: Networking Certifications
Part III: Security Certifications
Part IV: Storage Certifications
Part V: Systems Certifications

Symantec offers a product that met the customer's needs, but it required solution provider certification.

One resulting problem was that the VAR was not well-versed in Symantec's related products, but the major issue was that both the VAR and Symantec could have lost the sale without the certification.

"There's a six-figure opportunity on the table. The good news is, we're going into this customer, arm-in-arm," said Cochran. "Within 90 days, the partner can get its certification, and then gets the rebate on the back-end. It's pretty common-sense stuff."

The VAR got the certification – and the contract.

Solution providers looking for a cash infusion may also benefit from their higher level of certification. Some investment firms literally bank on these partners' perceived ability to make money, said Surinder Brar, senior director, worldwide channel strategies and programs at San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco, which offers certifications in a range of technologies – such as its Master Security certification and Master Unified Communications certification.

"The Gold brand-name has enormous recognition," he said. "I have investment capitalists calling because they want to invest in a Gold partner. There's already a reputation for Gold out there in the market, and customers already know it. Every certified partner in Cisco must meet a customer satisfaction test. If a partner doesn't meet the customer satisfaction quotient, they cannot be certified. They are an extension of our brand."

Security, once the sole responsibility of the IT department, is a common topic in board meetings and corner offices. They may not be technology whizzes, but upper managers generally appreciate certification and can be educated about the extensive requirements solution providers must prove in order to earn these badges of honor.

Whether a VAR is selling to a school or a hospital, a financial institution or a small store, all businesses require some level of security, and being certified in a vendor's technology can help VARs expand their market reach to new and existing customers.

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